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CARPET & RESTORATION
Eliminating this problem is made more difficult when
remodelling work is undertaken by either inexperienced
homeowners or unprofessional contractors, as their alterations
may have contributed to hidden places for fire and smoke
damage to linger.
Remediating a fire loss may also take longer, meaning you
might have to wait a while before you’re paid.
In fact, some contractors have avoided getting involved in fire
restoration because it seems too complicated.
But it’s not, as long as you appreciate the principles and correct
techniques of fire restoration and odour control.
Here are some things to remember:
• Make sure there’s a straightforward exchange of information
between you, the customer, the insurance adjuster and any
possible subcontractors. Communicating clearly and setting
expectations is a critical component of the job.
• Get a written agreement from the homeowner on exactly
what areas have been damaged by the fire and what items
should be salvaged or discarded. You don’t want them
coming back to you later claiming you’ve trashed an heirloom
or didn’t finish the job.
• The way that fire and water damage jobs are handled do have
some similarities, but they can’t be interchanged. Confirm that
only techs with certification are allowed to work on the site.
• Smoke and fire residues can be poisonous, as fires can include
the demolition of plastic, foam, fabric, carpet, wood products,
synthetic textiles, and asbestos-containing materials. Ash
and smoke can also cause widespread corrosion, etching and
staining, as well as persistent powerful odours. Removing these
and their sources should be your first priority.
• If the damage is localised, contain those areas to assist in
• Carefully inspect all areas that may have numerous layers of
wall board. These may hide unexpected gaps and voids that
turn into superhighways for circulating smoke and odour.
• Examine all wall cavities, duct work and plumbing chases to
establish whether they suffered any smoke residue or fire damage.
• Use a borescope to discover any damage that may otherwise
have been impossible to see without having to completely
By Mark Gibson*
One of the most critical concerns for fire restoration
contractors is failing to control or eradicate odours. This
problem can lead to frustrated customers as well as
potential legal and financial dangers.
remove a part of the structure. If the fire is recent, use of a
thermal imaging camera may reveal hidden warmer areas,
indicating possible fire damage.
• Aside from losing their valuables, the majority of
homeowners are underinsured. They may even have to
take up temporary lodging. So you’re going to be dealing
with some very distraught people. Train yourself and your
employees on how to be empathetic and ways to successfully
communicate with them.
When eliminating malodours on fire jobs, remember that there
are several factors that can impact the strength of the odour:
The bigger the fire, the more objects have burned, and thus
there’s been more smoke.
The longer a structure has been exposed to smoke, the more
deeply odour has seeped into porous materials.
When a fire occurs in a smaller room, the smoke odour becomes
more intense and concentrated.
Not all odours are equal. For instance, burning wood, plastic
and protein all have very different smells and consistency.
This may influence the types of odour eliminators you use.
Where the damage occurred and what burned will always be
your two main concerns in fire restoration.
Knowing the full answers to those questions will likely ensure
that your restoration efforts will be complete and that you’ll be
able to eliminate all of those irritating malodours, while at the
same time eliminating any call backs.
Fire restoration jobs can be profitable but also tricky unless
Prepare well, otherwise you’re the one who may get burned.
Mark Gibson is an independent contractor with 20+ years’
experience in sales and marketing in the disaster restoration industry
This article first appeared in the February 2017 issue of R&R
Magazine and has been republished with permission.
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